Monday, February 7, 2011

Citrus Week - Blood Orange Polenta Cake

While much of the country has been experiencing chillingly cold temperatures and aggressive snow storms we have had an unseasonably warm week here in sunny (?!!) San Francisco. I took advantage and went down to the Ferry Market - where I can really only afford to look and get ideas - which I did! The weather felt like corn on the cob and juicy peaches but it is still citrus season so I decided to celebrate with a blood orange dessert.

I love the gritty crunch of cornmeal in my cakes and luckily I located this recipe for blood orange polenta cake in Bon Appetit. To begin you combine 3/4 cup plus three tablespoons flour, 3 heaping tablespoons corn meal (I put in extra), and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder in a bowl. Set aside.
Now this is the part where I, to put it nicely, diverged from the recipe. I, sadly, do not have a cast iron skillet (sniff sniff), nor do I have any sort of pan that can bake in the oven (notice the black plastic handle), so I made the caramel sauce in a pan and was prepared to transfer it to a cake/pie pan. Begin by putting 6 tablespoons granulated sugar and 3 tablespoons water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, bring to a boil and don't stir. Let it cook until the sugar mixture turns a light caramel color but BEFORE it turns dark and burns.
Here's the part where I may or may not have screwed up - remove from the heat, quickly add in 2 tablespoons butter and then hurriedly dump it into the cake tin before it hardens and becomes unmanageable (I may or may not have been on the phone while doing this and at the same time been trying to take photos and then I may or may not have forgotten to add in the butter . . . it all worked out). Thinly slice two blood oranges and arrange them neatly on top of the caramel mixture. Set aside.

Batter time - Beat 3/4 cup sugar, 6 tablespoons butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a bowl. Once combined and fluffy, beat in two egg yolks (reserving the whites) one at a time. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the addition of 6 tablespoons of whole milk (start and finish with the dry!).
Once all that is combined, beat your egg whites until they form soft peaks, throw in 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and beat until the whites form stiff peaks. Fold in 1/3 of the egg whites into the batter, then fold in the remaining whites.

Spoon the batter on top of the blood oranges. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes. It recommends serving it with whipped creme fraiche. I bought the creme fraiche but then, in my excitement/exhaustion, I completely forgot about it, though I managed to still thoroughly enjoy the cake sans creme.


  1. BEE-YOU-TEE-FULL!! You are so talented! I loved your segue about the weather (the poor frosty people) to seeming like summer, but citrus, it is. Your photos matched the lightness you felt at the weather to be enjoyed. Gorgeous photos and presentation.

  2. I was just enjoying the photos of the trees and .. um... a curtain? And also I am happy to hear you're enjoying nice weather in SF! And also, I'm sorry I'm commenting after your mom because I was going to point out that your lamenting the absence of a cast iron pan sounded like a BIG HINT she could take for someone's upcoming birthday! Meanwhile, that cake sounds amazing, and I'm too lazy to make it (plus, do we have blood oranges here?), so please FedEx me some. One time a friend of mine in SF FedExed a burrito to her sister in Mass., so I know it can be done. Muak!